In addition to this blog, I am actually a design and art history historian as well as a cultural anthropologist. It’s a quite a mouthful I know. Though much of my academic writing and research has taken a back seat since receiving my masters last spring, I have made some efforts in the final months of last year to expand on some projects I had started in graduate school, including my paper on Target, its designer collaboration collections and plus size blogging– a paper I submitted last October to be considered as a possible presentation for the Fashion, Style, Appearance, Consumption and Design area of the 2015 Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association’s National Conference.
I was told that once you send in your abstract for consideration it takes approximately a minimum of two weeks to hear back from the area chair, I heard back in two days. From that day I was in crowd-funding and paper editing mode. It was an intensely stressful time given the the other responsibilities I had to deal with such as work, looking for another job, apartment hunting, eventually moving, and starting this blog. It should come to no surprise then that I did my final edits to the paper and accompanying PowerPoint the week before I was set to present. Yet even with all the anxiety fueled by the craziness that is my life, I was very excited to spend Easter weekend in New Orleans for my first (national) conference.
I arrived the day before I was scheduled to present which gave me a chance to sit in other panels for different academic areas, such as Film Adaption, Fat Studies, Tolkien Studies, Material Culture, as well as Libraries, Archives and Museums, to name a few. Admittedly the experience did shake my confidence as I started to question the significance of my paper as the work by my fellow scholars was not only impressive, but presented in such a way that kept the audience engaged for the entire panel. I was in awe of these scholars who clearly have had much more practice than I.
Prior to this opportunity, I had only ever presented my work in undergraduate and graduate classrooms in order to fulfill the participation portion for the classes I took. I voiced my concerns to my mentor and friend via text who immediately set me straight. She, along with the rest of my 4RWI sisters, provided the kick I needed to get out of that funk. I am so thankful for that, after all I didn’t get to the conference on my own, a legion of support back home did. It was with this boost of confidence that I got dressed and went to sit in some more panels until it was my turn to present.
I was the second presenter for the “Brands and Consumption” subsection of the Fashion area. This also turned out to be the final Fashion panel for the conference, which totally explained the diversity in the audience as only two of them could be considered to be plus size. I made my way up to the podium, plugged my computer to the projector and started to present. After a while I finally relaxed enough that I ended up only glancing at my paper as I spoke, making sure I covered all of my key points. In the end my worries about the significance of my paper were unfounded as it was well received and I got a lot of feedback.
The positive reception I received from the audience really caught me off guard. In fact when I spoke about Target having plus size offerings of its Lilly Pulitzer collaboration collection exclusively online a major groan resonated in the room. One man even face palmed and shook his head! (He later came up to me and told me about plus size fashion in Japan with one company straight forward calling its customers “FAT”with their clothing line sizing. I have since looked into this and found that the company claims that they use the term in such a manner in order to make “it cool.” I think this is worth looking into further and it may in fact be the subject of another blog post.) I was asked to look into how other retailers that use the designer collaboration model, like H&M, have helped plus size women achieve fashionability. So now I am determined to expand my work even further starting with this year’s designer collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer. Fingers cross that this may lead to possible journal publication!
In addition to attending the conference, I also managed to do some tourism in New Orleans which was amazing. I spent most of my time in the French Quarter in particular as I was staying within walking distance. Though I didn’t get to see too much (I was only there for 4 days and 3 nights) I did get to see enough that got me hooked on the city. I am craving for another (and hopefully longer) trip over there, this time with a friend or family member since it was kinda lonely.
What I Wore
As for what I packed and wore, I will say that I am guilty of over-packing but I did manage to mix some pieces in ways I never have, which was good for me. I originally intended to share my OOTD via Instagram during my time there, but with the crazy schedule of the conference I ended up having to pass on that idea.
Note: I apologize for all the mirror selfies. I plan on investing in a tripod which I will use for any future trips I take alone.
Day 1- Spring Flower
I actually bought this dress for a Easter/ Spring dresses photo shoot that I never got to do it. It is a dress that I feel in love with at first sight during a shopping trip with my aunt and cousin at the Bay Plaza mall in the Bronx. That day I forced myself to leave without buying it, but after staring at it longingly on my computer the following week , I made an effort to hunt it down in one of the Old Navy locations in Queens. It wasn’t easy. I guess many women got the same impression I did when they saw the dress, leaving me to visit four different locations until I finally found it, and for half price too! My mother was the one that suggested that I wear the dress with my favorite jersey pink blazer and it looked great! This is definitely a new staple for my spring/summer work wardrobe this year.
Day 2- Presentation Day Peplum
I ended up packing two potential outfits for my presentation; the first was my “Rose Red” outfit I got back in February from the Fashion to Figure sample sale, and the other was this peplum dress that I paired with a collared blouse. Being that this was my first conference (ever) I wasn’t too sure what the dress code was, or if one even existed, so I was a bit hesitant to wear anything too flashy or too conservative. I am also very sensitive to heat and being in New Orleans meant that heat wasn’t something I could easily avoid. Considering the air conditioning was on full blast and I was there for most of the afternoon and evening, I ultimately made the right choice.
Day 2- Presentation Night Boho
After my panel I decided to get something to eat and wanted to be comfortable while doing it. I am beyond happy that I decided to pack some shorts as the heat was intense. ( A much welcome change considering when I left New York was in the “high” 30s – “low” 40s.) Sure long, bellowing sleeves doesn’t exactly communicate “cool,” but this peasant blouse is really so light and airy; perfect for New Orleans weather. As for how I am wearing this blouse, recently I’ve noticed a trend where you only tuck the front of your shirt, and I decided to give it a try. It gave me this cool high low look that is very flattering. Don’t be surprised if you see this outfit on Instagram again this summer.
Day 3- Touring the French Quarter!
I think another title for this post could have easily been “One Blazer, Three Ways” seeing as how I ended up using the blazer that many times during this trip. This was not planned as I usually wear this striped top from Torrid without any accompanying top pieces, however, that morning the temperature dropped to the 50s, making it very chilly. That combined with the rain made it necessary to carry something to keep me warm and the blazer did the trick.
Day 4- More Touring and Trip Home
As my flight left in the afternoon I made an effort to wake up early for one final walk around the French Quarter. In truth I was looking for some beignets for breakfast and with the idea of taking some back for my mother to try. Sadly, I returned back to my room empty handed, still I did get to see parts of the city get ready for Easter celebrations. Let’s just say that the south is really into Easter bonnets. My phone decided to have a little “exhausted diva fit” which is why I have no pictures, but take my word for it, these bonnets were very elaborate and inventive.
Comfortable was the keyword for my final outfit since I had an hour layover in Atlanta to look forward to. The pink blazer made its final appearance, this time with my chambray shirt, black skinny jeans and some sunglasses. I am nearsighted so I usually don’t buy or wear sunglasses often, still I had to have these retro inspired sorbet yellow sunglasses from Trashy Diva and I wasted no time in sporting them on my trip to the airport. The mixture of pink and sorbet yellow was a nice nod to Easter in New Orleans, or at least I like to think so.
Overall this trip was a great experience and I am glad that I got to bring exposure to plus size fashion and branding in an academic setting. I can’t wait to see what doors this conference opens for me and plus size fashion.